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Renewable energy

De Montfort University is committed to reducing emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) that result from our use of energy by 43% by 2020, from a baseline established in 2005. As part of the action plan to achieve this target we have installed a wide range of renewable energy technologies across the campus, which also help to reduce our exposure to ever increasing energy costs. This page gives a brief overview of the renewable energy systems currently operating at DMU. We hope to continue adding new renewable technologies in the future to help us become one of the UK’s greenest universities and increase the learning opportunities of our students. 

Biomass boiler

The heating in John Whitehead Building is mostly supplied from our biomass boiler. The boiler is fed with high quality wood pellets derived from sawmill waste wood. This provides low carbon renewable heat in place of burning fossil fuels. 

Ground source heat pump

The underfloor heating and some of the hot water in Hugh Aston Building is supplied by 4 ground source heat pumps. There is a network of 60 boreholes, each 100 metres deep, in the ground underneath Hugh Aston’s courtyard. The temperature of the ground at that depth is relatively constant throughout the year, warmer than ambient air temperatures during winter and cooler than ambient air temperatures during summer. Using our reverse-cycle heat pump, we can exploit this temperature difference to provide low carbon heating and hot water in winter, and low carbon cooling in summer. 

Air source heat pump

The new Leisure Centre requires a lot of hot water throughout the year for the showers and to keep the swimming pool at a comfortable temperature. We have installed an air source heat pump to help meet this demand and reduce our carbon emissions. 

Solar thermal panels

The Hugh Aston Building also benefits from low carbon hot water, which is generated by two roof-mounted solar panels. These are the evacuated tube type of panel which deliver energy at higher efficiencies than flat plate systems. They have also been designed to track the sun so as to maximise the solar energy absorbed. You can get a good view of the panels from the top floor of Edith Murphy House. When the water temperature reaches its set point, the panels turn away from the sun to avoid over-heating the water. 

Solar photovoltaic (electricity) panels

Over the summer of 2013 the University has undertaken four installations of photovoltaic panels on our buildings.

 

1. Hugh Aston Phase 1 =  20.64kWp which should generate 16,512kWh per year

2. Hugh Aston Phase 2 =  28.00kWp which should generate 22,400kWh per year

3. Edith Murphy  = 22.56kWp which should generate 18,048kWh per year

4. Gateway House  = 48.96kWp which should generate 39,168kWh per year

 

Between them it is estimated that these four installations will generate 96,128kWh of electricity per year, As the average household uses 3,300kWh of electricity per year this means that we will be generating enough electricity to supply over 29 homes. From a campus perspective this amount of energy easily offsets the amount of electricity consumed by Trinity House in a year (78,646kWh 2012 – 13) and will reduce the University’s emissions of CO2 attributable to energy use by 52 tonnes per year. In addition to installing the panels, we also took the opportunity to increase the level of insulation on the roofs as well. 

Rainwater harvesting

As low rainfall is becoming more common nationally, we believe it is responsible to use our water resources as efficiently as possible. In addition to this, energy is required to clean and pump water around, so reducing water usage has many benefits.  In the Hugh Aston building, we collect rainwater in an underground tank, from where it is pumped around the building to flush toilets. This system reduces the amount of fresh water we use and reduces the amount of energy and chemicals used to treat the water by our water company.

 
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